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BERLIN, March 27 (Reuters) - German business morale brightened unexpectedly in March, a survey showed on Monday, suggesting company executives in Europe's largest economy are brushing off concerns about the threat of rising protectionism.
The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 firms, rose to 112.3 from an upwardly revised reading of 111.1 in February.
This was the highest reading since July 2011 and it came in stronger than a Reuters consensus forecast for 111.0.
"The upswing in the German economy is gaining impetus," Ifo chief Clemens Fuest said in a statement, adding that the upwards trend in assessments of the current business situation continued unabated and the business outlook also improved.
The rise in the headline figure was driven by improved sentiment in the manufacturing, construction and retailing sectors, while the business climate in wholesaling deteriorated. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Paul Carrel)